The Birth of Lennox Archer O’Malley Smith

The Day Before

On the morning of Tuesday, January 11th, 2022, I woke up feeling tired and a little disappointed that I still hadn’t gone into labor yet. After weeks of feeling like I was ready to have this baby, I kept going to bed anticipating that maybe labor would start, and then I would drift off to sleep a little frustrated that I didn’t seem to be any closer to meeting my baby.

I had hoped and prayed that labor would start on the night of January 10th so that I wouldn’t have to go to my midwife appointment in Roanoke the next morning, but my baby and my body obviously had other plans. I was 41 weeks 3 days pregnant and our midwife Degra requires her clients to have a biophysical ultrasound scan at 42 weeks. So, we had gone ahead and scheduled the biophysical to be done that morning in Roanoke with Ultrasound America at 10 a.m. I am not a morning person by any means, especially because I have a really hard time going to bed early, so I was not looking forward to getting up early and then having to drive an hour to Roanoke, have an ultrasound, and then a prenatal appointment right after that.

Another reason I felt so disappointed that morning was because I had chosen to not get any ultrasounds during this pregnancy, unless it was medically necessary, and it seemed frustrating that I had made it to 41+ weeks and THEN had to get an ultrasound. In a sense I felt like a failure because I was agreeing to something I really didn’t want. At this point in my pregnancy I was losing the drive to advocate for myself and my baby. But, I told myself that at this point a quick ultrasound wasn’t the worst thing I could be agreeing to.

So, we drove the long drive to Roanoke. I was tired, I felt bad that Brendan was taking time away from working to come with me, and I also felt bad to drag Ellis along to the visit because I knew that was asking a lot of a 3 year-old.

Our ultrasound appointment lasted about 30 minutes or so, and the actual scan of the baby didn’t even take that long. Everything was looking good, baby was healthy and in a good position. Then after we made a quick coffee run to Starbucks we went to our very last prenatal appointment with Degra. We checked on the baby’s heart tones (all was looking good) and we talked about different methods of “natural” induction.

It felt surreal to even be talking about induction. Ellis was born at 39 weeks 5 days and I fully believed that this baby would come a bit early too, or at least come by 40 weeks. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would go past 41 weeks. Degra said that we needed to have a game plan in case we did need to kick start labor, so we went over all the options. At this point Degra said that the baby was healthy and looking good, so she wasn’t saying I had to try induction, but she wanted me to know what I wanted to do moving forward. If I hadn’t had the baby by that Friday then we would see Degra again at another prenatal appointment.

Most of the methods of induction didn’t sit well with me, but again I found myself agreeing to things I knew I didn’t want. Degra wasn’t pushing me to do any of the methods of induction, but I felt that I was running out of time. My biggest thought was that I would rather do some form of “natural” induction over having to go to the hospital, so I found myself saying I would consider things like a membrane sweep even though that’s not what I wanted at all.

During the weeks leading up to this appointment I had been drinking red raspberry leaf tea and eating dates daily, I had been going on long walks, and we had even been intimate in the hopes that labor would kick into gear. All of these were good for my body and helped get baby into a good and healthy position, but I knew that despite my best efforts baby was not going to come until baby was ready.

The method I felt most comfortable with and that I told Degra I was open to was using herbs to try and kick start labor. The herbal tinctures that were suggested were Ginger Root tincture, Black Cohosh tincture, and Blue Cohosh tincture. So I got the Ginger Root tincture at the local co-op in Roanoke and I ordered the other two for pick-up at Health Nut Nutrition in Lynchburg.

We headed back home and got back around 2 p.m. Brendan jumped back into work and Ellis and I just spent the afternoon hanging out together.

I felt so exhausted that day. I made a late lunch and sat in a patch of sunshine on the sunroom floor and ate. I don’t remember what else I did that afternoon besides going to Health Nut to pick up my tinctures I ordered between 4:30-5p.m.

I went to the store by myself and left the boys at home. On the drive back home I was listening to Christian music such as “Scars in Heaven” by Casting Crowns and the song “It is Well” and I cried. I was still feeling the weight of losing Maw and the many mixed emotions I had surrounding this pregnancy and upcoming labor. The sky was so pretty that evening and I was beginning to feel a shift.

The sky on the drive back home from the health store that evening. 5:25 p.m.

However, I still felt I was floating in limbo. Neither here, nor there. Sort of half-way between worlds; somewhat present but at the same time, drifting closer and closer to labor land. Other mamas will understand and know what I’m talking about.

I got home and knew that I needed to start cooking dinner, but I was weary and dinner was really the last thing on my mind. The boys were resting on the couch together and I was kind of hoping that Brendan would suggest we just pick something up for dinner. But, I reluctantly made my way to the kitchen to put a pot of water on to boil for some pasta.

By this time I was feeling really uncomfortable and I was occasionally feeling some tightness in my belly. I mentioned it to Brendan at one point and he felt my belly and said that I was probably having surges. I had thought the same thing, but it wasn’t painful or intense so I thought that if anything it was just a practice surge. I told myself there was no way that it could be the real deal.

We sat in the living room while we ate dinner and watched something on tv, but I can’t remember what we put on. I remember thinking a lot about Maw and how one of the meals we frequently had together when I was in college was pasta. Maw always had pasta noodles and jars of tomato and Alfredo sauce in her pantry. She would fix that along with a salad and some garlic bread that she made and kept in the freezer. A simple, cheap meal that now holds so many rich, sweet memories for me. As I sat there on the couch feeling so tired, I thought of all the conversations we had over those warm bowls of pasta and I found myself wishing I could have one more dinner with Maw.

I can’t remember what I did from the time Ellis went to bed to about 10:30p.m.

This is it

There were a few times over those last couple of weeks that I would start having some practice surges in the evenings. They would usually last until I laid down and went to bed, and then they would taper off. So I assumed the same thing was happening this time around and I really didn’t want to get my hopes up.

Last bump selfie before labor really picked up. 10:17 p.m.

Brendan went to bed around 11:30 p.m. or so, and I came back downstairs. I planned on sitting down with my cup of Nighty Night tea and watching an episode of “The Office” like I normally do before going up to bed. Around 12:15 a.m. I started noticing that I was having surges, but just like in times past I expected them to die down when I went to bed.

Before when I had practice contractions I was able to ignore them pretty easily when I was doing chores, sitting on the birth ball, or watching tv. But as I was tidying up a tad before sitting down with my cup of tea, I realized that I was getting irritated and the surges weren’t that easy to ignore. I decided then that I would message Mom, Alli, Ella, and Cori (my go-to ladies and support system) and let them know how I was feeling, but didn’t know if it would amount to anything. Cori (our photographer) responded and I told her I was going to watch some tv before bed, and that I’d let her know if anything changed.

As I sat on the couch with my tea in hand, I realized that I wasn’t able to ignore these surges. I decided that I would time a few of the them, just to see how far apart they were. At 12:35a.m. I had a surge and then again at 12:44 a.m., 12:48 a.m., 12:52 a.m. and so on. They were lasting about a minute and were roughly 4 minutes apart then, but they weren’t intense and then they would space out a bit. By then I was starting to accept that maybe this could be the real deal. I decided that what I needed to do at that point was get to bed and try and get some rest in case things started to pick up.

Right before I was about to head upstairs, I walked into the office and saw how brightly the moon was shining through the window. I felt like it was a sign that something was going to happen.

Looking at the bright moon from the office window right before I went to bed. 12:20 a.m.

Before laying down I decided to text the doulas to let them know that I was having some surges but didn’t know if they would amount to anything. I told them I was going to bed to get some rest and I would check back in to let them know if things started to progress. I didn’t wake Brendan up to tell him I was having surges because I wanted him to rest while he was able to. It was a little after 1 a.m. when I finally laid down to try and get some sleep. I remember that the thought of laying down seemed like it would be super uncomfortable to me.

Surges continued but I was able to doze off for a bit. Then a little after 2 a.m. I woke up to an intense surge that seemed to come out of no where. I had to really focus on breathing through it and then I felt some sort of internal pop. This time I woke Brendan up and had him help me up. I had thought that the pop I felt might have been my waters releasing, but when I got up to go to the bathroom I saw that it was just some bloody show, so I’m not sure exactly what I felt while I was still laying in the bed.

While in the bathroom, I filled Brendan in on when my surges had started and how far apart they had been. I was still having them in the bathroom and they seemed to be coming frequently and were quickly growing in intensity. Brendan got the app open on his phone and started timing them.

All of a sudden it seemed I had gone from moderate cramping to intense surges! I could no longer deny that I was in labor, but I still didn’t know where I was at in the process or when I should have the birth team come. Thankfully, Brendan was well aware of how I was doing and how quickly things seemed to be progressing, so he knew it was time to call the midwife and alert everyone else that planned to be there.

Call in the Birth Team!

Brendan stepped out of the bathroom to call Degra and let her know how I was doing and that it was probably time for her to head over. That was at 2:15 a.m.

About 15 minutes later, at 2:30 a.m., Brendan also texted the doulas, my mom, and Cori. Morgan (our doula) said that she was on her way. Brendan actually stepped out of the bathroom a second time and called my Dad. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to get a hold of my parents, but thankfully they both had their phones on. Brendan told my mom that we didn’t need her help with Ellis at the moment because he was asleep, but that if mom wanted to be here when the baby was born she should probably head out soon.

After Brendan notified the birth team things start blurring together for me. I knew that everyone was on their way but I don’t recall much else besides that. I had been laboring in the bathroom leaning against the sink and breathing/blowing very hard each time I had a surge. At one point the thought crossed my mind that I should probably move to another room or position to try something different, but I had found my rhythm and didn’t want to lose it.

The surges seemed to be coming strong and fast, one on top of the other. At this point they were already about 4 minutes apart. I wanted Brendan at my side for every single contraction. He was doing hip squeezes and I was also having him apply counter pressure to my lower back for each contraction. We were pretty cramped in the bathroom and I knew Brendan didn’t have that much space to help me, so at some point we decided to move to the bedroom.

When we moved to the bedroom I had Brendan help me change into the “labor outfit” I had picked out. I wanted to wear something pretty and that I felt confident and cute in, especially since I was having pictures taken this time. I put on my pretty blue/green nursing bra, my pink animal print drawstring pants and my robe.

Morgan arrived first since she lives the closest. It was 2:50 a.m. when she came up to our room.

At that point I was laboring at the foot of the bed. With each surge I would kind of rock and move through the pressure and I would rise up on my toes and breathe really strongly, exhaling and blowing forcefully. I don’t exactly know why I started laboring this way, but I was trying not to get in my head and just flow with what felt right in my body. Looking back it seems a bit silly, but it helped me cope with the intensity of each surge and helped me move through each one with control and power.

Brendan was still applying counter pressure for me and after each surge I would lean over onto the pillows I had stacked at the foot of the bed. Morgan jumped in at one point and helped with counter pressure and hip squeezes. Immediately I could tell the difference! While Brendan’s hands felt more familiar and safe, Morgan’s hands felt more skilled and knowledgable. I welcomed the different sensation and was grateful that Brendan could rest and have a little break.

Around 3:15 a.m. I think Brendan suggested I do a bathroom break since it had been a while since I had gone pee. I forgot to go to the bathroom throughout Ellis’ labor and that ended up causing issues, so we knew this time it was important to stay on top of that.

I really don’t remember going to the bathroom then. But I know I was wanting to get back to the bedroom and to the foot of the bed again.

By 3:21 a.m. Degra had arrived and was getting her stuff all set up in the room. Midwife Leslie had also arrived and was there to act as Degra’s assistant. Mom and Cori arrived right around the same time as well. Degra tried to listen to the baby’s heart tones for a couple minutes, but each time I had a surge and would lean over she had a hard time getting a good reading. So, around 3:50 a.m. she asked me to lay in the bed so she could get a better listen.

Leslie and Degra checking baby’s heart tones, Morgan applying comforting touch, and Brendan staying close by offering emotional support.
3:50 a.m.

Again, this is one of those times where I was in labor land already and it’s a bit hazy for me. I remember being in the bed, but don’t really recall Degra asking me to get there and I don’t really remember anyone helping me up or anything.

Laboring in bed on my back, even for just those few minutes, was really uncomfortable though. I just kept my eyes closed and focused on my breath, which is what I had been doing the whole time. I was aware of how strange my belly felt and how lopsided it looked. This suggested that the baby was possibly in a funky position.

Degra checking baby’s heart tones. 3:54 a.m.

Before I had laid down in the bed, I remember thinking that the surges were just coming SO FAST. I didn’t know how long I could handle them coming so quickly at that intensity and thought to myself,“if I can just catch a break in between and get a little rest then I will be okay”. But I was a little nervous because I didn’t know how much longer I had to go at that point.

After Degra checked the heart tones, I remember hearing her say that if the baby didn’t move after awhile then we might need to try walking up and down the stairs to try and get baby into a better position. I felt like I was in such a dream-like state at that point and Degra sounded so far away. Internally I groaned because walking up and down the stairs sounded like the last thing I wanted to do, because I knew it would make the surges more intense.

Degra telling me to rest. 3:57 a.m.

I knew I wanted to rest, and apparently I was able to communicate that well enough to my birth team. Degra told me to rest if I could, and then she would check back in and we would go from there. I rolled over to my left side and Morgan stuffed pillows in between my legs to help keep my hips open and around me to help me get comfortable.

I was aware that Mom and Cori were in the room at that point and I told Mom she could come over and say “Hi”. I don’t remember what we said to each other, but I felt comforted by her presence. She brushed my hair with her hand for a bit before she and Cori left the room to let me get a bit of rest.

Mom coming over to talk to me for the first time since she arrived. 4:03 a.m.

I didn’t want to deal with surges while lying down because it made them feel 10x more intense, I just wanted to rest so I tried to focus on breathing through each one I felt. A birth affirmation that I had on my wall came to mind while I was lying there, “allow, release, let it go”. I really tried to stay relaxed through each surge and not tense up like I had done during Ellis’ labor, and I did that by coming back to my breath.

By 4:24 a.m. I was sleeping and not really waking during the surges. I never opened my eyes, just breathed heavily and focused on blowing. I didn’t know who all was in the room with me, but I was aware that Brendan was laying in bed behind me applying counter pressure and reassuring touch. And I thought that Morgan was either beside me or at the foot of the bed.

In my dreamy state I heard somebody ask about where they could go to lay down and rest. And I roused myself enough to mention that there were extra clean blankets on the chest freezer down in the basement. That’s me, always worried about others and making sure everything is taken care of in the house, even during labor.

Apparently, the midwives were just about to go down the stairs to go rest for a bit when they could hear and tell that things were about to pick up the pace.

I was still laying in the bed when I felt another surge coming, and I could tell it was going to be a bit more intense. This time at the peak of it my body started to bare down and I involuntarily grunted. In my head I was feeling a little bewildered, there was no way my body could be pushing already!

Morgan was so sweet and encouraging saying “I like the sound of that!”. A minute later the midwives made their way back into the bedroom to check on me. This was at around 4:50 a.m.

To The Bathroom

After laboring in bed a few more minutes and the midwives checking on me we decided that a bathroom break would be a good idea. Degra wanted me to sit down on the toilet so that she could check baby’s heart tones but I couldn’t relax enough to fully sit down. I was dreading it, because lying down or sitting made the surges come in full force!

At 5:07 a.m. I was still hovering over the toilet, trying my best to relax and NOT have a surge so Degra could get a good heart tone reading. When a surge would come I just felt like I needed to poop, not really like I needed to push. I’ve heard that this is a good sign that things are really moving along, but I had never experienced this feeling while I was in labor with Ellis, so this was all new to me.

During all of this, I was starting to really zone out and head deep into labor land. Morgan had put up some fairy lights in the bathroom and the soft glow was so warm and comforting. I was staring up and into space, practicing non-focused awareness and trying my best to breathe deeply and fully. I started nodding my head as a coping mechanism and repeating affirmations to myself. I knew that the next surge I would have was going to be hard.

After telling Degra I felt like I just needed to poop, she decided to reach down and check me and discovered that the baby’s head was starting to crown! I was in complete disbelief that I was this far along. At this point there were 5 of us crammed into our tiny little bathroom, with Cori and my Mom just right outside the bathroom door. I started to think that I might birth this baby right there over the toilet in the bathroom!

Since we had very limited space in the bathroom, Degra wanted to get me back to the bedroom. Hearing that made me want to laugh — how in the world was I going to get back to the bedroom while crowning?! In reality, the bedroom was only about 5-10 feet away from the bathroom, but in that moment it might as well have been 5-10 miles away. That was at 5:13 a.m..

Back to the Bedroom

With the help of Brendan and my birth team, I made the trek across the hall back to the bedroom. I remember reaching out for mom’s hand as I passed by her. Once I got back to the bedroom I paused at the foot of the bed to rest and collect myself. Degra wanted me to get back up in the bed, but I needed a minute.

By 5:18 a.m. the birth team had helped me back up onto the bed. I was on hands and knees and honestly I was just so blown away that I was at this point in labor already.

Back in the bed. 5:21 a.m.

This was such a sacred window of time. I vividly remember feeling like I needed to tune everyone else out for a moment and talk to my baby. During Ellis’ labor, I never talked to him. I had read about the amazing benefits of communicating and connecting with your baby in labor, but I guess I felt too silly to do that. This time around, I didn’t overthink, I just followed my instinct.

I told baby that we were so close, and I asked baby to slow down and work with me. I needed a few minutes, I knew that, so I communicated that to baby. And according to Morgan, there was a solid 5 minutes with no surges! There in the bed, in between worlds, I felt Maw so close to me. I told baby not to worry, that Maw was here with us helping us, and that we were going to be okay. We had waited so long for this. I felt peace wash over me and had renewed strength. I was ready.

The Birth

Morgan whispered softly to me and said, “You’re doing so good. You’ve got this, Mama! You’re so close to having this baby”, and I said in response, “I can’t believe I’m this close.”. I asked Morgan,“When did I even go through transition?”, and she shrugged and said, “In your sleep when you were laying here, that one grunt-y contraction you had before you went to the bathroom.”. We laughed at that, but I was really in disbelief!

That window of space felt so long, but not in a bad way. I wasn’t in pain or discomfort. I asked if it was normal to have a break in surges like this and Degra assured me it was. I truly think that I didn’t believe I was so close to the end. Degra even had to remind me that if I had another surge I could bear down. I said “I can?”, and Degra replied, “Yes, baby’s head is right there!”. I said it didn’t feel like the baby’s head was right there, and Degra told me I could reach down and feel if I wanted to. Reaching down and in to feel my baby’s head was so wild! I never got a chance to feel that when I was in labor with Ellis.

At 5:25a.m. I had one strong surge and baby’s head was born! Baby was in such a good position, pursing his little lips. Degra removed the sac from baby’s face as I asked if everything was fine. Everyone assured me that things were great! I asked if someone could help me catch baby when it was time. I didn’t get to catch Ellis when he was born, and I was determined to catch my baby this time.

Baby’s head stayed out for 2 minutes before I had another surge, with no concern from the midwives. He stayed halfway between world and womb in the most loving, safe, and calm environment. I kept my hand on his head the whole time, and it was the strangest most magical feeling I have ever felt in my life.

When the next surge came I felt like I had pretty good control and was focused on my breathing. Degra gave me a verbal nudge to really push, and one big push later baby came flying out into my hand. Degra helped me catch baby since I was still on hands and knees and she passed him right to me between my legs. Baby cried right away!

Baby is born right into my hand! 5:27 a.m.

Lennox Archer O’Malley Smith was born at 5:27 a.m. on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022.

I couldn’t believe it. I had waited so long to hold this sweet boy. I cradled his warm, slippery body in my arms as he cried, such a good strong cry. I said “We did it! Wow.”, and then asked what time it was, and again I was in disbelief at just how fast he had come!

He’s here! 5:28 a.m.

The placenta was born at about 5:45 a.m. with no complications. Brendan cut the umbilical cord around 6:08 a.m. and just a couple minutes later, at 6:10 a.m. Lennox latched and breastfed for the very first time.

It all felt so sacred. I couldn’t believe that I had such a beautiful, intense, but relatively easy labor and birth. After such a long, hard pregnancy, I was beginning to think labor might be the same. But it was the complete opposite.

The First Few Hours

As soon as Lennox was out and in my arms I felt immediate relief. Just knowing that I wasn’t pregnant anymore made me want to cry sweet tears of joy.

When I gave birth to Ellis I had an episiotomy and had to have stitches. But this time around the midwives said I didn’t really tear, and that if I promised to stay in bed and rest for 5 days they didn’t think I would need any stitching or interventions of the sort.

That was huge for me, because two things I really wanted during this home birth were 1) I wanted to catch my baby and, 2) I didn’t want to tear.

The plan was to have Ellis be present and in the room when I was about to have the baby, but labor ended up going much faster than I anticipated and since Ellis was sleeping so soundly, I didn’t want to wake him up.

So a little after 7 a.m. Ellis woke up and got to come in and meet his baby brother for the very first time! That was such a special moment for me, holding both of my sweet boys together and seeing the wonder on Ellis’ face. He loved his little brother so much already!

After the birth team got us all cleaned up and settled in bed, everyone went downstairs to eat and give me, Brendan and our baby some space. Our birth team and my mom were amazing, bringing us food and anything else we needed. My first meal after giving birth was scrambled eggs and Ezekiel toast.

Another one of the wonderful midwives who attended the birth, Danielle, performed Lennox’s newborn exam a little after 9 a.m. Thats one of the many many things I LOVE about home birth — the birth team really honors that sacred window of “The Golden Hour”, giving mama and baby time to bond skin-to-skin and establish breastfeeding during the first hour after birth. Also, there’s just something so magical about mama and daddy being able to hold their baby and get to know them first before a bunch of other people have handled them.

I was excited for Brendan to get to weigh Lennox during the exam. I knew that this baby was bigger than Ellis had been, and we were all estimating that he would be around 7 pounds, maybe. My mouth fell open when Brendan held him up in the scale and the number read 8 lbs 7oz! Almost a whole two pounds heavier than Ellis had been. So Lennox was 8lbs 7oz and 21 inches long.

8lbs 7oz! 9:08 a.m.

Ellis and my mom were in the room to watch the newborn exam and I just loved that they got to be a part of that.

After the newborn exam my mom helped me clean up a bit more. Since I was on hands and knees when I gave birth, my feet got baptized in blood and birthy liquids. So my mom literally bent down and washed my feet for me. Talk about a picture of humbling yourself and serving your children. That was a moment that really stands out to me.

I don’t recall exactly when everyone finally left, but I think it was afternoon. Degra had suggested that my parents take Ellis out for the afternoon/evening so that me and Brendan could get some much needed rest. So, my dad got off of work early and he and my mom took Ellis to their house for the afternoon to get some special time with them. That was such a relief to me and I so appreciated my parents’ help.

For the rest of the day Brendan and I got to rest and soak in our sweet baby boy. My parents brought Ellis back after 7 p.m., he had fallen asleep on the way back home.

Soaking up the snuggles with our baby. 9:54 a.m.

After my parents left, we settled down in our room, which I called the “Mother Nest”, and had our special Birth Day dinner that I had prepped ahead of time and put in the freezer. We had spinach lasagna rolls and then for Lennox’s birth day cake we had a very special homemade cheesecake that my dear friend Sarah had made and brought to me for Christmas. I had put it in the freezer with the intention to save it for Lennox’s special day.

We snuggled up in the bed as a family and watched “The Office” before going to sleep for the night.

Closing Thoughts

One of my greatest fears surrounding this labor and birth was that I would end up being alone. Mentally, emotionally, and even physically. But I had the most beautiful, healing home birth just like I had envisioned and I felt so loved and held by everyone who was there with me that morning. I even felt held by Maw, which meant the world to me.

It has taken me a whole year to deeply process my birth with Lennox. If I’m being honest, I’m still processing my pregnancy and postpartum with him. My story with Lennox goes so much deeper than what I written here, and that is why it has taken so long to even share this.

Pregnancy was extremely difficult due to circumstances I had no control over or say in, and postpartum was the same way. But his birth was a beautiful, sacred window of healing light and empowerment. Bookended by loss and heartbreak, shedding and growth, this birth healed me in places I didn’t know were broken. I am forever grateful for that and so proud of myself for the hard work I have done.

I am extremely grateful for my wonderful support team who showed up for me, not only on the morning of his birth, but during the difficult weeks leading up to his birth when I lost Maw, and the long days postpartum stepping into my new role as of mother of two.

If you have made it this far, I want to say “thank you” for reading and sharing in the joy of this beautiful day with me.

*Photos by Cori Michelle Photography

First Trimester — Pregnancy Recap

It’s true when they say every pregnancy is different. In a lot of ways, this pregnancy has progressed pretty similarly to my pregnancy with Ellis. But there are some stark differences this time around that have completely caught me off guard. 

When I was pregnant with Ellis I did a month-by-month update on my pregnancy and talked about how I was feeling physically and emotionally. I didn’t feel led to share that often this time around, at least during the first trimester, so this post will be a re-cap of the entire first trimester all rolled into one post. Going forward, I might write some updates more often if the mood strikes me or if anyone shows interest in it.

Okay, lets dive into the first trimester and all the messy stuff that comes along with it! 

The First Few Weeks 

I was just 4 weeks along when I found out I was pregnant. I took a pregnancy test on the day I was supposed to start my period and those two little lines on that stick saying “positive” were so bold there was no denying it. As I mentioned in my last post, I had a deep intuitive feeling that I was pregnant before I ever took a test. Intuition aside, there were plenty of signs that my body was sending to me to let me know a big shift was happening. 

This is what I love about the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) of tracking my cycle (if you don’t know what FAM is I highly encourage you to go look it up!), it has helped me learn more about my body and be so in tune with myself that I can detect when ovulation is, when my period is about to start, and when I am pregnant. I want to write a separate post on this topic in the future, especially because I have been using FAM for years and it is how I got pregnant with Ellis and this baby, and how I avoided pregnancy in-between without ever taking any kind of birth control. 

Anyway, those first couple of weeks after finding out I was pregnant were pretty normal. At the time I was doing intermittent fasting, drinking coffee everyday, eating plant-based, and feeling very active and energetic. I was physically feeling the best I ever have in my life! 

We had a beach trip planned with Brendan’s family the next week and I was a little nervous for how I would be feeling. It was around week 6 during my pregnancy with Ellis that I first started feeling nauseous and a bit lethargic, so I was hoping I could make it through this trip without feeling sick. I was definitely not ready to share the news with family yet, so I was praying that everything would go well during the trip. 

Thankfully, I made it through that week feeling pretty normal. I did find myself exhausted in the evenings and couldn’t stay awake late, but besides that I was able to eat all the normal foods I usually do and wasn’t feeling sick at all. But on our way back home from the beach that Thursday, I started feeling lethargic and not up to eating a whole lot. I wasn’t sure if this was due to being pregnant or just being tired out from vacation.

5 weeks, 4 days pregnant with little Luna Baby ❤️

The next week after vacation was week 6 of this pregnancy, and sure enough about halfway through the week I started feeling fatigued and a little nauseous. It’s such a strange feeling to go from feeling your very best, and the healthiest you have ever been, to zero energy or desire to eat normally. 

When I was pregnant with Ellis I felt nauseous for about 2-3 weeks, and then that faded away. I never actually got sick which I’m extremely grateful for. This time around I feel like the nauseousness and fatigue dragged on and on throughout most of the first trimester. 

How I’m Feeling Physically 

During those early weeks, I found myself feeling tired in the afternoons and even took a couple of naps on the couch while Ellis watched some cartoons on certain days (if you know me, I despise naps and never take them). After dinner, I found myself beyond exhausted and most evenings I would just crash on the couch and doze until it was Ellis’ bedtime. This really threw me off of my normal day-to-day rhythm, and I forgot just how physically draining growing a tiny human can be. 

In addition to feeling exhausted I felt extremely bloated from the start. I did feel this way during my first pregnancy, but again this time around it seemed that the bloating would never go away. As a result of the bloating, I felt like I already had a baby bump showing at just 8 weeks. At that point it really was just bloating, but I felt huge and was convinced that everyone was going to be able to tell that I was pregnant. 

The fatigue, nauseousness, and bloating were the only main physical differences I noticed right off. I definitely felt different in my body and was able to pick up on the changes much sooner during this pregnancy. 

Food Aversions 

When I was pregnant with Ellis I started experiencing a few food aversions right around week 7 or so. For the most part during my first pregnancy, I could eat savory/spicy foods for a couple weeks and coffee was replaced with ginger tea when I was feeling a bit nauseous. But besides that I was able to eat most all of my favorite foods during the entirety of my pregnancy. 

This time around, things have been vastly different! 

I have never been so disgusted by so many of my favorite foods. I think the food aversions started around week 6-7 and they hit hard! It was as if overnight I couldn’t tolerate foods such as cereal, crackers, tortilla chips, peanut butter, rice, spicy/savory foods, onions and garlic, and coffee. I found this so bizarre as a lot of these foods were plain and would normally have been easy on my stomach (such as the crackers and plain cereal). 

My guess is that these foods were processed and fairly oily and thats why I felt so turned off by them. Just the smell of plain cooked rice, a saltine cracker, pretzel or tortilla chip would turn my stomach. It was as if I was smelling and tasting them for what they really were, overly processed and full of all kinds of additives the baby didn’t need. 

The coffee is really what threw me off. When I was pregnant with Ellis, there was a couple weeks that I couldn’t drink it when I was feeling nauseous in the mornings, but that only lasted a few weeks at most. This coffee aversion has lasted well into the second trimester during this pregnancy. I have always been a coffee lover and its the one thing I have never wanted to give up know matter how healthy the rest of my diet is. But I could not stand smelling it, cafe drive-thrus turned my stomach, and drinking it tasted like burnt, bitter, oily water. It was the weirdest thing! But again, I feel like it was the baby’s way of protecting themselves from the caffeine and whatever other nasty stuff is in coffee. 

When I got a bit further along into the first trimester I started fixing a cup of green tea when I wanted a little pick-me-up, or if I was out I would get an iced matcha green tea latte. Not the best because it still contains caffeine, but a heck of a lot better than coffee. 

What I’m Eating and Craving 

I try to listen to my body when it comes to what foods I eat. I was eating plant-based all through the month of April and up through the first week or so of May. I had been feeling great and thriving eating this way, but when the fatigue started to kick in my appetite also increased a bit (weird, I know). I started feeling like my body was craving more protein (which I don’t eat a whole lot of) and since I know I usually struggle with eating enough food period, I felt like I should start including some things back into my diet for the time being. 

I started adding in some pasture raised eggs for breakfast in the mornings because I knew it would give me some protein first thing in the morning to start my day off with and it was one of the only foods during those first few weeks that actually sounded good to me. I also switched to using grass fed butter instead of the oil based plant versions I had been using. And I allowed myself to add some dairy back into my diet. 

I felt extremely guilty and disappointed in myself at first for doing this, since I had been feeling so great eating plant-based. But I knew it was important to listen to my body and put the needs of my baby above my own for the time being. 

My guilty pleasures in the very beginning were pasta and ice cream. I always wanted ice cream when I was pregnant with Ellis, which was pretty unlike me since I usually reach for a salty or savory snack over sweets. But alas, this pregnancy is no different in regards to the ice cream. 


Pregnancy is Strange!

I’d say the weirdest thing about this pregnancy, besides the odd food aversions, is my heightened sense of awful smells and the fact that sweat/body odor smells like straight up onions to me! That’s right, when I sweat I smell like onions. My husband and my mom have assured me that they don’t think I smell like onions, so I guess (I hope) it’s just my nose that is interpreting it that way. But it’s actually the worst thing ever haha. The coffee aversion I can deal with, but this I am so over. I know that women tend to sweat more when pregnant and that their hormones can change and therefore change the smell of their body odor, but I’ve just never heard of this. 

And then my heightened sense of bad smells this time around is killing me too. I feel like during those first couple months I was so sensitive to so many different smells. Even smells I usually really enjoy such as citrus fruits had a very off putting odor to me. Oh well, I can only hope that these things will disappear once the baby is born. Somebody please tell me these things will go away!! 

Securing My Birth Team 

During my first pregnancy, I had a difficult time finding the right prenatal care (I have written about that in another blog post if you care to read it). After a few hiccups, I finally met with my midwife for the first time and knew that she was the right fit for me. Trying to hunt down the right midwife really stressed me out last pregnancy, so I knew that right from the start one of the first things I wanted to do during this pregnancy was get my birth team secured. 

I wasted no time at all and called my midwife just 3 days after I found out I was pregnant. I knew it was so early on, but I wanted to go ahead and make sure she was available to attend my birth, especially because I am due right around Christmas/New Years. I was so grateful to hear that she could take me on as a client again! 

A few weeks later I reached out to a team of doulas in the local area. My doula from my first pregnancy has since moved to a different state, so sadly we could not have her attend this birth. But we have so many amazing birth workers in this area and I had heard wonderful things about this group of doulas, so I knew before I was pregnant I would want to meet with them to discuss their services. 

I met with my doulas the first week of June and felt such peace in knowing they were the right women to have attend my birth. They were also available around my estimated due date, so we were able to secure their services right away. And then later that week I had my very first prenatal meeting with my midwife. 

Both Brendan and Ellis were able to come to the prenatal meeting with me and we were all able to hear the baby’s heartbeat together for the first time. It was such a special moment and Ellis’ reaction and excitement were so sweet! He is thrilled to be a big brother. I absolutely love the midwifery model of care and how it gives the whole family the opportunity to be involved. There’s nothing like it!

Well, this turned into an extremely long post. But if you made it this far thanks for reading!! Hopefully I can get a few more posts written soon about the second trimester, what books I’m reading, and going through pregnancy after Postpartum Depression (PPD). If you are currently pregnant or have already had your baby, how was the first trimester for you? 

Conception Journey with Baby #2

Carrying another babe in my womb is something I have thought about regularly since I gave birth to Ellis. I always knew that I wanted to have several children, I just never imagined how extremely difficult the postpartum period would be for me, or how it might change my mind on when I would want to try for baby #2.

I thought that maybe 2020 would have been the year to try for another baby, but for so many reasons 2020 ended up being the hardest year of my life and a baby was not on my radar at all. It wasn’t until I had made some significant changes in my everyday life this year that I started to feel ready to try again.

Clean Sweep

April was a beautiful transformative month for me this year. In addition to doing a major cleanup and shift with my diet and incorporating more workouts into my exercise routine, I also did a lot of growing mentally and emotionally. And with growth usually comes some pain. 

I did a lot of release work during the first few months of April. And let me tell you, letting go of certain things and situations in my life, surrendering, and accepting that I really have no actual control is some of the hardest, most terrifying internal work I have ever done. My counselor really helped me with this, and before I saw things take a turn for the better, I had a lot of shadows and doubt that I had to work my way through. 

This is very deep and personal stuff I’m talking about, and I might share more about this in another blog post, but I just felt like I couldn’t tell this story of my second pregnancy without mentioning just how emotionally intense this month was for me. 

As the month of April moved along, I started feeling the best I ever have physically. I had gone back to eating a plant-based diet at the beginning of the month, I had started intermittent fasting, and I was still doing daily yoga. For the first time in years, I felt strong, healthy, and confident in my body! I loved the way my body looked and I was amazed at the energy I now had. 

I always thought that I would reach my body’s prime in my early 20s before I had children. I was feeling pretty comfortable and happy in my body before I became pregnant with Ellis, but after I had him I never thought I would quite get back to where I was. In a sense I was right about that, my body has never quite gone back to what it was pre-pregnancy. But after putting in a lot of time, dedication, and hard work, I have learned to love my body and what its capable of even more! 

Am I Ready For Another Baby?

There were a lot of times last year that I wondered if I would ever feel ready to have another baby again. For years, Brendan and I had both talked about wanting to have several children, but after experiencing the worst of my Postpartum Depression (PPD) I think we were hesitant to rush into another pregnancy. (I’ll talk more on the topic of my experience with PPD in a future post.)

But with time and lots of healing work on both our parts, we were feeling hopeful and excited to be talking about when we would want to start trying for another baby some time this year. In my head, I was thinking that I’d continue to clean up my diet, get stronger, and do more healing to work through my PPD before trying to conceive. Midsummer was sounding like a good time to me to start trying for baby #2. 

However, as God would have it, I would become pregnant a few months ahead of “my timeline”. And isn’t that the way God tends to work? We think we know best and like to plan out our lives and be in control of how things will play out. With my tendencies toward perfectionism, this is a very hard thing for me to let go of and give God control over. 

I also always told myself that I would never want to have a winter baby. Winter is my least favorite season and there are so many reasons I would not choose to have a baby during the coldest, bleakest months of the year. But, again, God had different plans for our life, and that’s okay. Sometimes we need a good dose of this to wake us up a bit and serve as a reminder that we are indeed not in control. 

So during the month of April, both Brendan and I felt comfortable saying that if I happened to get pregnant our hearts were ready to welcome another baby into the family. But we weren’t ready to start actively and intentionally trying to get pregnant. I think being comfortable with the possibility of getting pregnant without the stress and pressure of actively trying to conceive was good for both of us. 

Trusting my Intuition

By mid April I started having that deep, intuitive feeling that I was pregnant. I knew that we hadn’t been actively trying, but there was definitely a possibility that I was. The feeling was strong, but I didn’t mention it to Brendan. 

When I first took a test to see if I was pregnant with Ellis, I took the test as early as I possibly could, before I had even missed my period. This time around I knew I could do the same thing, but something was telling me to be patient, wait, and lean into my own intuition. That took a little bit of surrendering, but it was worth it. 

The end of April was a very emotional time for our family. Brendan lost his grandfather on April 25th and we got the call that he had passed away while we were sitting at the dinner table. And I’ll never forget feeling so strongly in that moment that I was for sure pregnant. 

On Monday April 26th, I woke up excited and a bit nervous to take a pregnancy test. I was supposed to start my period that day and I was feeling pretty certain that I would see those two little lines pop up on that stick. I waited until Brendan left for work, then I went to the bathroom to take the test. 

I set the test on the back of the toilet and avoided looking at it for a minute or so while I washed my hands, looked at myself in the mirror and said a little prayer, knowing that my life might be shifting in a big way. And sure enough, I turned around and those two pink lines lay looking up right at me. Positive. I was was pregnant. 

A happy little gasp escaped my mouth as I stood looking at the test. My intuition had been right! I can’t remember if I told Ellis that morning or not, but I knew that I would be waiting a couple of days before I shared the news with Brendan. Just as I felt very strongly that I should wait to take the test and trust my intuition, I felt that I needed to have a couple of days of keeping this news to myself. 

There was something so sweet and sacred about keeping this beautiful little secret to myself, just me and this little babe. For the next couple of days I went about my everyday rhythm with a bit more purpose and intentionality. My morning yoga felt a bit more magical knowing there was a new little soul being knit within me, I was being more loving and attentive to Ellis thinking about how he wasn’t going to be my only little baby anymore, and I felt like anyone I came in contact with must have known I was pregnant because I felt like I was glowing and about to burst at the seems with happiness. 

That night, I went to a prenatal meeting I had with some of my doula clients. The drive out to their house was filled with peaceful landscapes and farm lands, and it was the most delicious spring evening. I was so excited for this couple who were expecting their first little baby and I was also feeling equally excited for myself as I was expecting my second baby. 

It was late when I left their house and the full pink moon was shining so bright. The moon followed me all the way back home, and I couldn’t help but feel the magic that the evening held. I reached down to stroke my belly and to talk to my baby to let them know just how thrilled I was to be carrying them. My little Luna Baby ❤ 

That’s the name that came to me, so gently and naturally, that evening. Already I could feel a stark difference with this little soul than I had when I was pregnant with Ellis. Ellis felt like such a bright, energetic, little fiery soul, my Sunshine Babe. This baby was different — very calm, gentle, soft, and sweet, my Luna Baby. The Sun is associated with more masculine, bright, yang energy. While the moon, or Luna, is associated with more feminine, gentle, quiet, yin energy. And who knows, this baby may turn out to have a wild and bold personality too. But for now, this pregnancy has felt calm and meditative, sweet and gentle. 

Telling My Husband I’m Pregnant

Wednesday April 28th is the day I decided to tell Brendan I was pregnant. I knew this time around I wanted to involve Ellis with announcing the pregnancy to Brendan, so as soon as I found out I was pregnant I ordered a t-shirt for Ellis off of Amazon that says “Big Brother” boldly across the front of it. I figured I would wait until Brendan got home from work that evening and then we would surprise him with the news. 

Ellis has this thing about wanting to hide from people, even Brendan and me, when they come over to our house. He likes to pretend he’s not around and we have to look around until we find him, his own little version of Hide-and-Seek. So, I took Ellis upstairs to our bedroom and told him that we would put his new “Big Brother” shirt on and hide from Daddy, and then when Daddy came upstairs to find us we could pop up and say “Surprise!”. Ellis liked that idea! So I told Brendan that we would be “hiding” upstairs when he got home and he would have to come find us. 

My heart was pounding as I waited upstairs for Brendan to come home, I was both nervous and excited to tell him I was pregnant. Ellis hid on our bed amidst all of the pillows and I stood in the corner of the room with my phone out ready to capture the moment on video. 

When Brendan walked in he looked over at me and seemed confused that I was videoing him. Ellis jumped up and said “Surprise!” and pointed at his shirt. The look on Brendan’s face was priceless as he read Ellis’ shirt and realized what the surprise was. Brendan walked over to me and scooped me up and lifted me up in the biggest embrace. I then handed him the pregnancy test, which I had wrapped up in a pretty gold ribbon. It was such a sweet, emotional moment and it made it all feel that much more real to me. ❤ 

I look forward to sharing more about this pregnancy journey and how different it has been compared to my first. Up next I think I will share about the first trimester and how that was for me physically and emotionally. 

The Day Before I Met You

It’s almost been a year since I gave birth to my Sunshine Babe. It feels like it was just a few short weeks ago when I realized that I was going into labor with him. I’ve shared Ellis’ birth story on my blog, but I wanted to do something a little different and write about the day before I had him. It might not be something that everyone cares to read, but I felt it was special to reminisce and document.

Sunday September 2, 2018

Sunday morning was like any other day. We got up and got ready to go to church at 11 a.m. I wore my leopard print dress with the sash around the waist because it felt nice and silky and looked good on my curvy pregnant body. I curled my hair and was feeling pretty good about the day ahead.

One of the very last photos of Sunshine Babe in my belly.

The night before I had a very vivid dream about giving birth to my Sunshine Babe. I had dreamed of giving birth twice earlier on in my pregnancy, but the dreams were always a bit fuzzy and hard to remember. Both times I had dreamed of giving birth before, I dreamed that labor kind of started abruptly and went very fast. Some of my family members were usually there, but Brendan was never around. One time I dreamed I gave birth to a boy, the other time a girl. In both dreams the labor was fast and painless. It was as if the labor was a blur. And in both dreams I asked to see the baby afterwards, but the baby was no where to be found, just my family surrounding me.

But this dream was different. In this dream labor happened fast just like in the earlier dreams, but this time I got to see my baby. I remember somebody telling me to look over to the side, and as I did my gaze met my baby’s. He had big, dark eyes and was looking right at me, into my soul. I woke up feeling a little more calm and ready to meet my baby, whenever he would decide to come.

Up until this point, I had been feeling a little anxious and nervous about my baby coming. I wasn’t scared of giving birth, I actually felt very prepared for that. But I was so nervous to become a parent. I was mentally preparing myself to make it to 42 weeks, in fact I wanted my baby to come later. But I had this little flicker of a feeling that he was coming early.

So we went to church that day, and I honestly can’t tell you anything about the worship service or the sermon. I remember that my brother and his girlfriend were there and they sat behind me and my husband Brendan. I remember my brother picked a piece of trash out of my hair at one point during the service.

After church we all went over to my grandma’s house for one more lunch with her before Sunshine Babe arrived. My grandma, brother, my brother’s girlfriend, Mom, my sister, Brendan, and I all ate pizza together for lunch. I don’t really remember what we talked about at the table and I don’t remember what the weather was like. I know I changed into black drawstring shorts and a loose gray t-shirt with daisies in the shape of a heart on it that Mom had bought me from Goodwill back in 2015. I used to wear it when I worked at my school’s campus farm.

My brother kept saying that I was going to have the baby the next day because it was Labor Day. I told him I really didn’t think that was likely since I wasn’t feeling any signs of labor and it was already Sunday afternoon. Everyone laughed at the thought anyway. As we were about to leave, I hugged everyone and then I told my grandma and my sister to feel my belly because it might be the very last time that they were able to. I had no idea how foreshadowing all of this would be.

Brendan and I went out to run a few errands after lunch. We went to Target and Walmart. I just had this nagging feeling that I needed to buy a few more towels and a mirror to have to be prepared for the birth. I went to Target because my sister had found a really cool Harry Potter Hogwarts t-shirt on sale at Target for about $3 and I wanted to see if I could find one before they were gone. Target was busy and I was getting annoyed with all of the women pushing shopping carts and blocking the sale racks. Luckily I was able to find one shirt left that was a Small. So I snagged that and I also bought the cutest little pair of baby moccasins that I had been wanting to buy for Sunshine Babe, and I got the heck out of there.

Next up was Walmart. I despise going to Walmart, and it was really the last place I wanted to go. But I needed some contact solution and I wanted to pick up those cheap towels and a hand mirror for the birth, so we got what we needed and got out.

On the way back home I started feeling a bit emotional and overwhelmed and I had no idea why. I remember when Brendan and I were almost home the song “Control” by Tenth Avenue North came on the radio and I started to tear up. I think I knew that I needed to release the pregnancy, labor, birth, and planning over to God. That moment really stands out to me.

I really don’t remember what we did once we got home. I think we just kind of hung around. I know I kept thinking I needed to go get groceries so we had food to eat and that we would have the fridge somewhat stocked for whenever I did go into labor.

We ended up getting McDonalds and Taco Bell for dinner. Lovely, I know. When we got home we decided to watch the first half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows while we ate our dinner on the couch. We had started watching the Harry Potter series back at the end of July in honor of Harry Potter’s birthday and we were still making our way through them. As I went to go bite into my crunch wrap supreme form Taco Bell I realized that they put meat in it even though I asked for beans instead. There was no picking it out or eating around it either. I was so annoyed and grumpy. Brendan asked me if I wanted to take it back, and I didn’t even want to fool with it.

So after we finished dinner and our movie, we decided that we would drive to Liberty University to walk around on campus. I was on instagram posting about my dream I had the night before for a long while, and Brendan was frustrated by that. But I just felt the need to get that post written. It was dark, and muggy outside while we walked. We ended up walking about 2 miles around campus. We even walked up all the stairs next to the Freedom Tower. I’m pretty sure we stopped to go to the bathrooms while we were there and I remember the curls in my hair had fallen flat from the humidity, and I was sweaty and felt fat and tired.

Since my dinner was a bust we were going to make it up by stopping by Wendy’s to get a $0.50 Frosty on the way home. Well, we went through the drive-thru at the Wendy’s nearest to us and they told us that they only had vanilla frosty’s and it would take about 30 minutes to make the chocolate ones. So we decided to drive to the next one, and to our dismay they said they were out. We made one more drive through to the one on nearest our place and they still didn’t have any. It was about 10pm at this point and I was so irritated and just wanted to go home and watch TV.

And this is where I pick up and start the birth story of my Sunshine Babe.

Looking back now, I see the subtle hints my body was sending to me to settle down, take it easy, and prepare to meet my baby. But I didn’t know because it was my first time and I had no idea what to expect really.

Watching and Waiting – Weeks 37-39 Pregnancy Update

As I sit here in front of my laptop on this beautiful last day of August, I am blown away by the fact that tomorrow we enter into a brand new month, the month where my son will finally join our family outside of my womb space.

September has always been a favorite month of mine. Not only is it the month of my birthday, it’s also a time of shift and transformation. The lush green foliage gives way to the deep burning colors of autumn leaves and there is a hush that comes over the land whispering to us to slow down and prepare for the harvest before winter comes knocking at our door.

This year, September holds even more of a symbolic meaning of transformation for me as I step across the threshold and go from maiden to mother. This time last year my mind was consumed with thoughts of becoming pregnant. There was nothing I wanted more than to become pregnant and carry a tiny babe of my very own in my womb. I thought about becoming a mother long and hard and was very reflective of what my life had been like up until that point and what my life would look like if I conceived and birthed a child. A year later, I sit here thinking deep thoughts on what my life will look like with my son here in my arms.

So, as I sit here watching and waiting for the cool, crisp days of autumn to surface, I’m also watching and waiting for my son to arrive.

Pregnancy Update

I still can’t believe that I’m 39 weeks pregnant and that my little Sunshine Babe could come any day now. The weeks all muddle together now and I find myself scurrying about trying to do all of my last minute nesting. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot since we moved into our new apartment, yet at the same time I can’t help but think of all the things that are still left undone.

I know that we have all of the major things taken care of – the crib is built, we have diapers, we have our home birth kit in place, and a bag packed and ready to go in case we would need to transfer to the hospital. But there are still so many little things I want to get done. I feel confidant and prepared for the actual birth, but I’m honestly feeling just a bit anxious about having everything I need for the baby and actually becoming a parent. I know these are all normal feelings though.

How I’m Feeling Physically

For months now people have been telling me how miserable I’ll be come August when I’m 9 months pregnant. Well you know what, it’s August 31 and I’m 39 weeks, 3 days pregnant and still not miserable! I really think it has a lot to do with attitude and mindset, but I’m grateful that I have been thriving and loving this summer heat while pregnant.

I’ve been feeling pretty good these past few weeks. My energy levels have been steady, I’ve been sleeping through the night more often, and I have been motivated to meal prep and get some more nesting done. I think my body knows that the time is ticking and I have this innate sense to get all of the preparation taken care of now. So far I’ve made and froze a batch of vegan banana blueberry lactation muffins, vegan banana bread, and some labor aid. Still on my list to make is some vegan corn chowder.

I kept having this feeling that Sunshine Babe would come early, but now that we’ve made it another week I think he’s going to stay nestled inside just a bit longer. Brendan was out of town for work last week, so I think I was a little anxious that the baby would decide to come while he was gone. And then we had a full moon last Sunday and I had a feeling that I would go into labor then. Still nothing though.

This baby and the entirety of the this pregnancy has taught me to sit and wait patiently and simply ride the waves as they come. There is no need to fret and fuss about things I have no control over.

Up until this past week I hadn’t experienced any practice surges. But on Tuesday at 3:40am I woke straight up from my sleep with really intense cramps. I got up, went to the bathroom, drank some water, and simply focused on my breathing. Within 10 minutes or so the intensity had faded away, so I got back in bed and drifted off to sleep again. I haven’t felt anything like it since then. My midwife says its a good thing that I’m having practice surges and is my body’s way of slowly preparing for labor.

How Baby is Doing

Last Thursday I had my 38 week appointment with my midwife to make sure that baby was healthy and everything was going well. My little guy is active and healthy but I was still measuring small, so my midwife suggested that I go have another ultrasound done to check on his growth.

So on Friday (August 24), Brendan and I went to have our fourth and final (hopefully) ultrasound done. The last time my midwife suggested we go have an ultrasound done to check on the baby’s growth I was scared. This time I was a tad anxious, but knew that she just wanted to be cautious. Turns out that our little Sunshine Babe is just a small guy and there’s nothing wrong with that! He’s healthy, active, head down and in a good position for labor. The only thing the sonogram technician recommended was that I need to drink a lot more fluids.

So this past week I have been more mindful of eating more and drinking lots of water. Today we went for my 39 week midwife appointment and things looked a lot better. My midwife said that I’m measuring bigger now and she could see some growth, and that my fluid levels seemed a lot better. Baby’s heartbeat was a strong 140 and is still very active.

My midwife says that I need to be drinking at least 70 oz of water a day and eating every 2 hours. Seems simple enough, but eating and drinking enough have been two of my biggest struggles throughout this pregnancy. I keep reminding myself it’s not for me, it’s for the baby and that helps. But it’s still hard.

This might be my very last pregnancy update post here on my blog. It’s a bittersweet feeling to know this pregnancy journey is coming to a close, but I am looking forward to finally holding my little Sunshine Babe in my arms after 10 long months of carrying him in my womb.

37 weeks, 6 days pregnant 

37 weeks, 6 days pregnant 

Sonogram pictures of my Sunshine Babe from our last ultrasound 

Weeks 33-36 Pregnancy Update

I’m still a bit behind on writing these pregnancy updates and honestly at this point I feel like all of the weeks are sort of blurring together. Being finished with work has taken some getting used to but I’m thankful for the time I’ve had to rest and start my nesting.

Brendan and I got settled into our new apartment pretty quickly. We had family coming into town for my baby shower 2 weeks after we moved, so that helped motivate us to get things unpacked and into their proper places. We still have artwork to hang up, but besides that our new place is feeling pretty cozy.

Baby Shower #2

We had my second baby shower on Saturday July 28th. It was such a sweet time celebrating my little Sunshine Babe! We had family come all the way from Florida and New Jersey to help celebrate.

I was gifted lots of cute baby clothes, homemade baby blankets, Target and Amazon gift cards, crib sheets, a few natural toys, a baby bath, a Boppy, a Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper, and lots of other thoughtful things for the baby.

Doula Prenatal Visit

The day before my baby shower our doula came over to our apartment for our second prenatal visit with her. This time we were going over comfort measures and positions for pregnancy and birth.

We learned how to use a rebozo for “sifting” (seriously so amazing! Look it up.), and different exercises that Brendan can help me do every week to help ease the tension in my body from carrying baby in my womb and to help keep my body strong for an easier labor and recovery. I love how these exercises give Brendan a chance to be even more involved and have an active roll in this pregnancy.

After we went over comfort measures we just visited with each other and chatted about all things pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery. I’m so thankful that we decided to hire a doula – she has been such a comfort to have!

Home Visit With Midwife

The first weekend in August we had our home visit with our midwife and her assistant. During this visit we gave our midwife and her assistant a tour of our apartment so that they know where everything is when they come for the birth of the baby. She also went over everything that came in our home birth kit and explained what it is all used for and brought her birthing tub over for us to keep for the birth. And of course she checked on the baby’s heartbeat and growth and we talked about the different stages of labor, when to call her, etc.

After this visit it really started to sink in that we are now in the home stretch of this pregnancy.

That’s all for now!

33 Weeks, 2 Days Pregnant 

34 Weeks, 4 Days Pregnant – All dressed up for my baby shower 

35 Weeks, 4 Days Pregnant 

Weeks 25-28 Pregnancy Update

Hello Third Trimester! I honestly can’t believe that I’ve already arrived to the final stretch of this pregnancy. At this stage in my pregnancy I feel like things have been flowing without much physical change, but there have been a few changes with life during the past few weeks.

Travel

Within the past 4 weeks Brendan and I have been on two mini vacations. The first was a trip to New York City at the end of May to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary! We celebrated both our honeymoon and our 1 year wedding anniversary in New York City as well, so it seemed fitting to visit our favorite city once again before we become a family of 3.

In years past we thoroughly planned out our NYC trips – hitting up lots of tourist-y spots and seeing all of the main attractions the city has to offer. But this time we really didn’t plan a whole lot. We decided to stay in Queens this time vs. Manhattan and it was definitely a fun change.

We do a lot of walking when we are in NYC (I’m talking walking at least 15 miles on foot throughout the day), but this time I couldn’t get around as fast. I guess that’s what happens when you’re 25 weeks pregnant! This trip taught me that it’s okay to slow down and enjoy time together with my husband and that it’s okay to listen to my body and allow myself to be pregnant.

Our second mini vacation was a trip to Delaware to visit Brendan’s family at the beginning of June. We were hoping for some nice sunshine filled days spent lounging on the beach, but the weather ended up being rainy and in the 60s most of the time we were there. We did get one beach day in though and we had a nice time.

We’re Moving!

After what feels like months and months of searching for a new apartment and praying about whether we should stay in Roanoke or move back to Lynchburg, we finally found a bigger, cozy apartment at a wonderful apartment complex in Lynchburg!

While I’m sad to be leaving Roanoke and all of my amazing co-workers and our Bible study group, I’m looking forward to being back in the city where Brendan and I met and to be just that much closer to my family. I’ve loved living in our little downtown apartment – its something that I always wanted to experience. But I must say I am thrilled to move into our new, bigger apartment and start my nesting and setting up the baby’s nursery!

Doula and Birthing Classes

While we were away on our trip to NYC we signed up for our very first birthing classes in Roanoke and found a wonderful local doula (who just happens to teach the birthing classes). A friend of mine recommended my doula to me and so far she has been absolutely amazing! Originally Brendan and I weren’t planning on having a doula for the birth of our son, mostly to save money. But the more we thought about it and read about the benefits of having a doula the more it felt right for us to hire one. If you are in the Roanoke/Lynchburg area and are looking for a doula, shoot me a message and I’d be happy to give you some recommendations!

We chose to enroll in Hypnobirthing classes instead of classes that are taught at the local hospitals in our area. These classes take place over 5 weeks and teach methods of deep relaxation, different breathing techniques, and learning how to surrender to your body and your baby during the birthing process.

I have loved everything about these classes! I love how this method really lets Brendan get involved in the birthing process and how it has helped us bond more with each other and our baby. I’ve also noticed that not only am I learning how to go into a deep relaxation for when I’m in labor, but I have been able to use the calm breathing method throughout my day-to-day life. And most of all, it has helped me build confidence in myself and my body and my ability to birth naturally. Brendan and I have also learned to not listen to people’s negative comments about the birth we are envisioning and the horror stories of birth they have experienced. It really has been such a freeing and empowering experience and I would highly recommend this class!

How I’m Feeling Physically

Honestly besides my belly continuing to swell, I really haven’t felt much different physically. Some days I definitely feel more “pregnant” than others, but so far I’m still feeling pretty energetic and healthy. My little Sunshine Babe is still on the small side, but no doubt he is growing and getting stronger everyday!

So far I haven’t had any swelling, no headaches, no stretch marks, and I haven’t been bothered by the heat. I have only had very mild heartburn on occasion and the other week I noticed that I was getting the occasional calf cramp in the middle of the night. But those have been my only discomforts, nothing to complain about though!

And one of the most exciting physical changes that has come with my transition into the third trimester is that I have started to produce colostrum! Two days before I hit 28 weeks I started lactating, and it really took me by surprise. But I am just amazed at my body and it’s ability to not only grow and nurture my son in my womb, but also to produce the most nourishing food he could ever receive when he arrives – “golden liquid”, the sweet nectar that is colostrum.

We have so many exciting life changes happening within the next few months and I am just trying to focus on being present and enjoying every little kick, wiggle, and hiccup while Sunshine Babe is still in my womb. This journey is magically beautiful!

25 weeks pregnant – In New York City by the Hudson River

25 weeks, 6 days pregnant

25 weeks, 7 days pregnant

27 weeks pregnant

27 weeks, 7 days pregnant – Sunshine Babe’s first time at the beach

Hello Third Trimester! 28 weeks pregnant

Hello Third Trimester! 28 weeks pregnant

Weeks 21-24 Pregnancy Update

These past few weeks feel as if they have blurred and blended together. As I sit down to type this post I’m trying to think back and recall how I’ve been feeling and what milestones me and my little sunshine babe have met.

Between finding out the gender of our baby, Brendan flying out of state for a week of training, and the two of us celebrating 2 very happy years of marriage with a trip to New York City, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement!

22 Week Ultrasound

On Friday May 4th, Brendan and I went for my second and last ultrasound. We were excited to see our baby again and to find out the gender!

During the first few weeks of my pregnancy I thought I was having a girl – I had always thought that I wanted a little girl first and Brendan said that he thought he’d like a girl too. But despite all of the old wives tales and dreams I had, I really couldn’t tell whether or not I was carrying a boy or a girl. It wasn’t until the night before our ultrasound that I had a strong feeling that I was carrying a little boy.

The lady performing our ultrasound waited until the last 15 minutes of our ultrasound to tell us that we are having a boy! Even though I had been preparing myself for this news, I was still so surprised. For the longest time I thought I was pregnant with a little girl, so it took a little bit of time to sink in that Brendan and I are going to be blessed with a son.

Gender Reveal

The very next day (May 5th) Brendan and I shared the news with all of our friends and family.  We had a special little gender reveal for each set of parents. For Brendan’s family we sent them two numbered envelopes that were filled with either pink or blue confetti and then we did a video call with them and Brendan’s brother and had them open the correct envelope.

Then for my parents we had a gender reveal balloon that we filled with blue confetti and had them pop at their house. I think both of our family’s were guessing it would be a boy.   I also did a little gender reveal for my co-workers since I went into work to use the helium tank to blow the balloon up. All of my co-workers dressed in either pink or blue and it was seriously the sweetest thing. My heart is so full knowing how much my little guy is loved already.

How I’m Feeling Physically 

The second trimester has been good to me. Over the past few weeks I’ve had more energy, I’ve been working out more often, and I’ve been motivated to eat much healthier than I did in the first trimester. I think the sunshine and warm spring time weather have really helped with my mood too.

What I’m Eating

For the most part I’ve been eating all of the foods I normally would, except I’ve added dairy and some farm fresh organic eggs back into my diet for the time being. This is simply to help me get more protein. There are still times when I feel guilty about eating dairy again because I really did want to have a vegan pregnancy, but I know that I’m doing the right thing for my body and my baby.

Since the temperature has been consistently in the upper 70s and 80s recently, I’ve been eating lots of smoothies (Green Mango smoothies are my favorite), almond milk yogurt, and fresh fruits like watermelon, pineapple, and strawberries. Since getting enough protein has been a struggle for me, I’ve also been incorporating Garden of Life’s Raw Protein and Greens powder into shakes and smoothies to get that extra protein my little guy needs.

And it seems that I’ve finally found my first and only real pregnancy craving – ice cream! Strawberry cheesecake to be exact. I’m not proud of this and I honestly think that it’s my body’s way of telling me that I need more protein. So I’ve been allowing myself ice cream here and there and limiting my dairy consumption elsewhere.

That’s all for now!

21 Weeks Pregnant 

21 Weeks Pregnant 

24 Weeks Pregnant 

24 Weeks Pregnant 

24 Weeks Pregnant 

24 Weeks, 5 Days Pregnant 

24 Weeks, 5 Days Pregnant 

Weeks 17-20 Pregnancy Update

Me and my little Sunshine Babe have officially reached the halfway point on our magical little journey together! 20 weeks has come a lot sooner than I thought it would and I still find myself in disbelief that this is my life right now and I am a mother-in-the-making.

How I’m Feeling Physically

This month has been basically the same as last month. While it’s not what it was prior to me becoming pregnant, my energy levels have been pretty steady throughout the day. I’m able to go about my days normally, but I do get tired earlier in the evenings.

I haven’t been consistent with going to the gym, but I have been trying to do low-key workouts at home. I’ve mostly been focusing on doing plenty of squats, stretches, some weight lifting, and walking outside when the weather is nice.

I’ve noticed that my face is getting fuller and I’m a bit softer all over. If I’m being honest, I really don’t like looking at myself in the mirror right now. It’s hard to see my face and my body changing like this because it brings back memories of what it felt like to be heavier and overweight during my first year in college. I worked so hard to lose that weight and to get healthier, and now to see the weight coming back can be defeating. I know that I’m gaining weight for a good reason and it’s not because I’m neglecting my health. Nevertheless, some days are harder than others.

What I’m Eating 

Originally my goal was to stay vegan throughout my pregnancy, but sadly that hasn’t happened. I wish I could say that my baby has been plant-based since conception, but that’s just not the truth. I’ll write a more in-depth post about my diet in the coming weeks to explain further.

Foods I have been eating more often recently include organic farm fresh eggs that my parents buy from their friends, lots of dairy-free yogurt for protein, veggie sandwiches, berries, raw nuts, dried mango, and green smoothies.

I still haven’t really had any cravings. I have noticed that I’ll get hooked on a certain food for a week or two and eat it a lot, and then not want it anymore. A few weeks ago that was veggie subs. So I guess that’s my equivalent to cravings.

How I’m Feeling Emotionally 

This whole pregnancy is just flying by and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! I’ve been sleeping well, I haven’t had any aches or pains, I haven’t been sick, and I am so excited and looking forward to the whole birthing experience.

I think mindset is very important when it comes to how you approach your pregnancy and your ever changing body. Yes, there are days when I feel defeated about my weight gain and there are even times when family members have tried to throw doubt and negativity my way. But I am choosing to be happy and move past all of my negative thoughts and the doubt that other people are casting on me.

God has chosen me to walk this journey and to carry this baby and I trust that He is going to take care of me and guide me along the way. Will everything continue to be smooth sailing? Maybe not. But I’m trusting that everything happens for a reason and that what’s meant to be will happen at just the right time.

17 Weeks Pregnant

18 Weeks Pregnant 

19 Weeks Pregnant 

20 Weeks Pregnant 

Searching For The Right Model of Prenatal Care

Written: 2/21/2018

First Impressions of Birth

Growing up I enjoyed hearing stories about how my mom gave birth to me and my siblings. When I became a teenager I was intrigued to learn more about the birthing process, what it was like being in the hospital delivery room, how long it took, and my dad’s reaction to the whole process. I then started to imagine what it would be like for me to give birth and have my own baby someday. But I never once thought about whether I would have my baby at home or in the hospital.

I knew about home births and water births when I was in my late teens, and I had even watched some reality TV shows where women gave birth at home. But if you had told me 8 years ago that one day I would be considering a home birth for myself, I would have said you were crazy.

Even though I grew up knowing about home births, I never thought that would be an option for me. It just wasn’t the “normal” model of birth you hear about in the United States. My mom had me and my 4 siblings in the hospital, and I had only ever heard stories about women giving birth in the hospital. All I really knew was that birth was supposed to hurt severely and that you needed to be in the hospital to have the help of doctors and their hospital equipment to have a safe birth.

Thankfully, my mom never painted birth as something to be fearful of. She said it hurt, but that it is so worth it and you forget about the pain once your baby is in your arms. Sadly, most young women hear horror stories from their mothers, mother-in-laws, friends, and even television shows about how painful labor and birth is. And that is their first taste of what birth will be like.

I didn’t start taking my health seriously until I was about 18 years-old. I wasn’t really into natural medicine back then, but I was skeptical of doctors and our modern healthcare system. Over the years I’ve become more educated on natural holistic medicine and herbalism, and I tend to shy away from doctors as much as possible. So when I started daydreaming more about becoming pregnant and having a baby of my own, I naturally started thinking about and researching midwives and natural birth.

Even before getting pregnant, I was very fascinated with natural birth and home births. I found myself following several different Instagram accounts of women who were planning on having a natural home birth and I even read a book called Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block last summer, so I could do my research and get educated on the differences between a hospital birth and a home birth.

The Hunt For the Right Midwife

Finding the right prenatal care provider for this pregnancy has not been easy. I started searching for midwives and birthing centers in my area last summer before getting pregnant. I wanted to do my research and be prepared for when the time came. At this point, seeing an obstetrician was not an option for me. I knew I wanted to have a midwife for my prenatal care, whether I was to give birth in a hospital or at a birthing center. I knew of one birthing center that was about 15 minutes away from where I lived and it had good reviews. So, as soon as I found out I was pregnant I contacted the birthing center and set up a time to meet with the midwife there for a free consultation.

I was a bit nervous but mostly excited when I went to see the midwife at the birthing center. As soon as she took me back to a room to chat, she calculated when I was due. She said I was due right at the beginning of September, and unfortunately that was the one month that she didn’t take clients because she takes the whole month off for vacation. So, that was about it. There was nothing she could do for me. She gave me a couple names of other midwives in the area, but they only did home births, not a birthing center birth.

I left the birthing center trying not to be beaten down, but I couldn’t help but cry and feel defeated. I honestly didn’t know where to go from there. Thankfully, it was still very early on in my pregnancy, so I knew I had time to figure things out. Even though I was feeling very discouraged when I left the birthing center, there was a part of me that knew it happened for a reason.

At that point, I hadn’t told anyone that I was pregnant besides our close family, so I really felt like I didn’t know where to turn. I looked up a couple of other birthing centers that were about 30 minutes away from me, but I could just tell by looking at their website that it wasn’t meant to be. So, I decided to reach out to a girl that I had known in college who I knew was pregnant and was into natural birth and midwives, and she just so happened to live in the nearby area.

Even though I wasn’t close friends with this girl, she was so open to sharing with me and was so sweet and encouraging. God knew that I needed her in that moment, and I was so glad I decided to reach out. She told me of the midwife that she was using and said that she had been amazing thus far. Thankfully, this midwife lives in my area and was affordable.

Disappointment

In the meantime before I scheduled a visit to meet with this midwife, I decided to go ahead and schedule an appointment with a women’s center in Lynchburg to get a check up and an ultrasound (since I still hadn’t seen a health care provider at this point). I chose to go see a nurse midwife in Lynchburg instead of Roanoke because I had family that recommended the place to me. So, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and visit this women’s center for one visit, even if I chose not to continue seeing them.

I just wanted to see my baby and to know that things were okay.

Well, I set up the appointment for my ultrasound and Brendan asked his manager to come into work later that day so that he could come with me to the appointment. Even though I wasn’t thrilled about going to a women’s center, we were both excited and looking forward to seeing our baby for the first time. So we got up and drove all the way to Lynchburg for our appointment at 11a.m. only to get there and have the receptionist tell me that they had called to let me know they had rescheduled my appointment for 9:30 a.m. and that I had missed it. We both couldn’t believe it. I told her that I had gotten a voicemail on Friday with a reminder that my appointment was at 11a.m. (I even had the voicemail saved on my phone), but that I had never received a call telling me that the time was changed. She sat there looking uninterested and said there were no more openings that day and there was nothing she could do for me but schedule me for a different day.

Me and Brendan walked out feeling angry, upset, and discouraged. I had taken off work to make this appointment, and Brendan had asked to come into work late, and we both took an hour out of our day to drive to Lynchburg for the appointment. And on top of that, Brendan then had to turn around and drive four and a half hours to get to his client for work. I couldn’t hold the hot stinging tears back any longer, and I let them flow. I felt so helpless. Here I was at the second appointment I had made to see a midwife, and it didn’t work out. I felt like I kept trying to do what’s best for the baby, to make sure he or she was okay, and I kept failing them.

I had planned on hanging out in Lynchburg for the rest of the afternoon, taking myself out to lunch and then going shopping. But all of a sudden I had no desire to do any of that. As I watched Brendan drive away on his way to work, I couldn’t help but feel lost. I drove to Goodwill to do some book shopping, but couldn’t find the motivation to get out of my car. I just sat in my car for an hour crying, and talking to Brendan, my mom, my aunt, and my second mama. I knew that there was a reason for the appointment cancelation and I knew that God would take care of everything. But I just needed a moment to sit and feel all of the emotions that were racing through my mind.

Falling Into Place

Thankfully things really started looking up for me and the baby later that week. After our disappointing appointment cancelation on Monday, Brendan made a few phone calls to find a good place for us to get an ultrasound in Roanoke. He ended up finding a place a few minutes away from where we live and the price was actually cheaper than what we would have paid at the women’s center in Lynchburg (even with our insurance). So I called the place and made an appointment for our first ultrasound! Unlike the people at the women’s center, this lady was so sweet and seemed genuinely interested and excited for me. I felt like it was God telling that He had orchestrated everything that happened on Monday for a reason – to save us money and to put us in the hands of someone who genuinely cares and is in our area.

The day after that I had a free consultation set up with a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) in Roanoke (the one my friend had recommended to me). This consultation was to go over her model of care (the Midwife Model of Care), tell me about her studies and experience, and to go over everything she can and can’t do as a CPM. This midwife specializes in home births in the Roanoke and Lynchburg area.

The meeting went so well and I was so pleased with her. I loved how calm and friendly she was, how she made me feel like my baby and I truly mattered, and how she went over everything in such detail with me. She was very open and honest with me about the things she can and cannot do as a CPM, and I so appreciated her raw openness. She provided me with a lot of paperwork, articles on home brith, and nutrition information to take home and go over. I left feeling like things were finally falling into place and that everything was slowly coming together.

Brendan and I originally thought we wanted to give birth at a birthing center with a midwife. This seemed like the best in-between option for us since we knew we didn’t want to give birth at a hospital unless it was medically necessary, and a home birth with our first baby seemed a bit daunting. But the further along we got on this journey to find the right prenatal care, the more it became apparent to us that a home birth seemed to be in our near future.

I truly believe that things didn’t work out with the birthing center and women’s center I visited because we were meant to have a home birth. Some said that I should maybe plan on giving birth at a hospital since the first CPM I visited didn’t work out and since, after all, a hospital is probably safer for a first time birth. That didn’t sit well with me though and I continued to pray, trust my intuition, and keep searching.

It’s great to be open minded and listen to people’s advice, but in the end, you have to do what’s right for you and your baby, whether other people approve of that or not. Trust the process, trust the journey, trust your intuition, and above all trust God.